Absolver: Initial Impressions

Earlier this year I was naively excited to see one of the touchstones of my childhood screen in cinemas once more. The Power Rangers movie, while not a good film, it certainly was a ‘nostalgia’ injection straight into my bloodstream so much so that I actually purchased the iOS movie-tie in: Power Rangers: Legacy Wars.

It’s a simple game; select a character from a roster of Power Rangers’ heroes and villains and fight some schmuck on the other end of the internet. You’re presented with three combat options at any given time to strike your opponent which relies on a basic energy system, and for a bit of dynamo you can dash forward or backwards by swiping across the screen. In addition to your chosen champion you can also select two support champions who roll in and perform a special ability to interrupt or damage your enemy.

That’s all for the technical mumbo-jumbo friends because frankly this isn’t a complicated game. In fact, it doesn’t ever try to be one. It just presents itself simply as a freemium mobile brawler that banks on chumps like me that crushed on Kimberly Hart at age 5.

I gave this game about $12.00AUD and a week of my life and frankly I was very satisfied. Sure it was a little buggy and after a certain level everyone cheesed the same three or four champions (from a roster of 40ish selectable characters), but it still got me to work and back for a solid week while also making me feel like I was accomplishing something with my insignificant life. But a week in this gamer’s life is a very long time to be playing anything, and frankly by the end of it I felt like I’d seen everything the game had to offer.

One of the big takeaways for me about this game was just how unique each character’s fighting abilities were. Amidst this huge roster of characters which included the original Power Rangers heroes and villains that I know and love, and all the c-grade blowhards that came after, each character fought differently with different attack animations and damage ratios. So why was it always the same characters that I found myself up against? The answer is very simple and you could probably work it out for yourself but I’m going to say it anyway after the semicolon at the end of this long line written purely to build suspense; they are simply the most reliable options to win!

Power Rangers: Legacy Wars presents its players with a range of options which, as beloved comedian George Carlin put it, “creates an illusion of choice”. Sure, you can pick the Pink Zeo ranger or the Red Pyscho Ranger (don’t bother googling) but ultimately, they’ll almost always lose to Billy Cranston, the Blue Ranger of the original series. Why? Because Billy’s range is better. Because he gets “blocks” more often. Because his skills are quicker and cheaper and resolve in fewer frames. And because he commands the motherfucking Triceratops! It’s that simple. It’s not a 1:1 ratio when you go up against Bill Cranston - tell your friends.

So even though I had a great number of options my decision making was guided by a very simple instinct; what is the optimised combination? Let me give you a hint: It’s Billy “Blue if I was Green I would not die but have had a better career” Cranston.

My first impression of Absolver is that it looks like Power Rangers: Infinity Wars with more money. It provides players with the same illusion of choice which will ultimately resolve in a finite range of optimised combos that create the game’s online meta from now until eternity. I know that was a quick jump away from a game that absolutely doesn’t matter to a game that hasn’t come out yet, but after having read my summary of Power Rangers I encourage you to watch the trailer for Absolver and tell me if you don’t notice the similarities.